Asleep on watch! Tuesday…

Tuesday sees a shamefaced skipper and a boat without a kettle. This is their sorry tale.

The night was VERY slow , and what wind there was came from dead astern . On my watch in the middle of the night it died altogether and I put the engine on. Out in the middle of the ocean I often sit in the companionway inside the bubble and put my head on the hatch in a half wake half sleep state , sitting up every 10 minutes or so to take a look around , but on this occasion my internal alarm failed and I must have dozed for nigh on 30 minutes. I woke in a panic with the smell of burning – a plastic sort of smell and my first thought was that the engine had caught fire. I rushed with an extinguisher to the fire port , but caught sight of the kettle on the stove with flames under it. Of course , I was going to make myself my mid-watch treat of hot chocolate. The kettle has long since lost its whistle and must have boiled dry and the hot metal was melting the lid of the nozzle! And that is why we are making drinks on the saucepan and Lynda and Amos the Cabin monkey are convening a court martial later on to decide if I can continue as Captain. Secretly I am hoping that I will get away with just a reprimand , as otherwise who will interpret the weather.

Ah , the weather! Theoretically we should be still struggling along with the wind directly astern as we skirt the north side of the high, but over the last few hours we have picked up a gentle SE and are now hard on the wind doing 5.5 knots in 7 knots true! This is largely down to the extraordinarily smooth sea and we are more gliding than sailing in the normal sense of the word. It feels to me as if the High is in fact dissolving and this is the first sign of the low pressure to our West which may yet give us strong to gale force Southerlies to take us in. Mind you this doesn’t tally with the pressure of 1030 , which shows no sign of decreasing as yet so I look forward to our next weather download to see if that casts any light on the problem. We have really enjoyed the light weather sailing of the past few days, having been through the gamut of most of our sails and trickled 150 miles ahead of our similarly sized passage mate , even overtaking much bigger boats. As ever they will come into their own if it blows , but for now Festina is in her element and keeping up a good average even when there seems scarcely a breath.

Lynda and I watched another episode of the Blue Planet videos this morning. Somehow it seems more real out here as all that marvellous stuff is taking place just next to us. The dolphins continue to visit regularly and we have seen really quite large numbers feeding on the horizon. Lynda was privileged to see Shearwaters feeding on a school of tiny jumping fish , whereas previously we have only ever watched in awe as they turn and bank inches above the advancing ocean swells and wondered what they live on. Several turtles have swum by and I think you probably do see more in calm weather , as in more normal conditions many of the animals are hidden by the waves.

At 1400 UT today we and the dolphins were at 38 30N 41 12 W with well under 600 miles to go . All is well ( if you don’t count a shamefaced skipper and a grotty kettle !), and there is still another evening of Christmas pud . Perfect.


  1. Hi Phil/Linda
    Good to hear you are making progress. Stopped making comments when there were too many Hamble based people over there with you enjoying the sunshine! If you have nothing good to say it’s best to say nowt. Now the weather here is a bit better and the crews of Fearless, Polly and Vela have returned I can return to the keyboard. Hope you survive the court marshall Phil, though I can think of no good reason why you should.
    Hope you make the craduation OK.

  2. The only bit of advice I can provide on the hot drinks front is not to make coffee using a pair of Jaap’s new socks.

    As to the court martial I think the prosectution should take out a private civil action against the defence for wasting the courts time as this is clearly an open and shut case requiring the maximum penalty allowed – longitudinal keel haul!

    Last week we had another marvellous few days in Polly including the first voluntary swim (Jo has the honour from Easter as the first Cudmore in the sea this year when she went hunting for the anchor that someone untied before dispatching it overboard) in the sea (Newtown Creek) without rubber. I think I will wait a few more months before I do that again.

    Adrian, Jo & Ella

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